Authorities in Texas say that a woman has been arrested for “illegally” performing an abortion on herself!
In what may be the first such unusual application of the State’s new controversial abortion law, Lizelle Herrera, 26, was taken into custody in the southern part of the state near the border with Mexico. She was held in a Starr County jail and detained on a $500,000 bond.
At the time of her arrest, a Starr County Sheriff’s office spokesperson told the press that she “did intentionally and knowingly cause the death of an individual by self-induced abortion.”
However, since the controversial arrest, the District Attorney has said that Herrera will not face any charges for performing the “illegal” abortion on herself. Local District Attorney Gocha Allen Ramirez announced that his office reached out to her counsel and explained that the DA would be filing a motion to dismiss the indictment.
“In reviewing applicable Texas law, it is clear that Ms. Herrera cannot and should not be prosecuted for the allegation against her,” the DA wrote in a statement.
“In reviewing this case, it is clear that the Starr County Sheriff’s Department did their duty in investigating the incident brought to their attention by the reporting hospital. To ignore this incident would have been a dereliction of their duty,” the top prosecutor added.
Still, “prosecutorial discretion rests with the District Attorney’s office,” he added, saying it would be against his “oath” to do justice by prosecuting Herrera and instead will “immediately dismiss the indictment.”
It was not immediately known how far along Herrera was in her pregnancy.
The charges came seven months after Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed controversial anti-abortion legislation banning abortions after six weeks.
Another Texas law prohibits doctors and clinics from prescribing medications to induce abortions after the seventh week of pregnancy.
Despite her arrest and the statement of the Starr County Sheriff’s Office at the time, “The issues surrounding this matter are clearly contentious,” Gocha Allen Ramirez said. “However, based on Texas law and the facts presented, it is not a criminal matter.”
The prosecutor added: “Ms. Herrera did not commit a criminal act under the laws of the state of Texas.”
Ramirez’s statement correlates with the view of legal experts and women’s rights advocates who say that Herrera’s arrest should never have happened in the first place. Texas authorities are now likely to face accusations that by putting the woman behind bars, they committed an act of gross overreach.
“There is no law in Texas that authorizes treating people who have miscarriages, stillbirths, or abortions as murderers,” said Lynn Paltrow, executive director of National Advocates for Pregnant Women.
The current law in Texas explicitly exempts women from being policed for any self-managed abortion. The state has attracted considerable attention in recent months after it passed SB 8, legislation that allows private citizens to sue anyone who helps a woman get an abortion as early as six weeks into pregnancy.
But SB 8 is a civil – not a criminal – provision, and it cannot be applied to the woman receiving the abortion herself.
“I really can’t imagine what they are going through right now,” family friend Romeo Gonzalez told The NY Post and local press of Herrera and her kin.
The DA echoed the sentiment, writing, “It is clear to me that events leading up to this indictment have taken a toll on Ms. Herrera and her family. To ignore this fact would be shortsighted.”